Well, folks, we’ve decided to get a goldfish. They’re like 35 cents, don’t come with any needles, or severe hormone shifts.
It wasn’t ALL that bad, but definitely overwhelming and quite sobering. After spending the past five years talking about it (and talking and talking), the whole thing slapped us in the face today. My stomach rolled over the moment we walked through the doors. During one portion while our coordinator “M” (she’s reading this… hello!) was giving her presentation, I thought I was going to have to leave. Tears started welling in my eyes and I was shaking my leg so hard I thought my sandal was going to fall off. Because rapidly shaking your leg is the cure for public crying.
We took our seat at the tables and there was a pink bag at our place. Shelton got really excited and thought it was a goody bag – full of drug-branded sticky notes, clicky pens and even candy. There was no candy in that bag. It might as well have been a goody bag from a Halloween party at Hansel’s and Gretel’s witch’s house. It was full of NEEDLES!!! Giant needles. Probably the same ones used to give elephants and humpback whales tranquilizers. There it is, my needle phobia (trypanophobia).
I literally shuddered. And used all self-restraint not to ask “M” if we could just get a topical cream or some sort of flavored Dimetapp-style liquid. Give me a pill the size of an Oreo cookie if you must. But needles? Most are tiny, I admit. The ones for Lupron, Gonal F, Menopur all seem to be relatively approachable. I’ll probably cry and throw a fit the first couple of times and then I’ll get over it. That progesterone needle? It’s the one that’s seven and a half feet long. It’s the one I’ll do daily injections with for SIX WEEKS! In my butt. Which will apparently bruise and be sore.
We also learned that despite my constant theory that we’d get ONE DRUG throughout our entire fertility preparedness project, that there will be multiple drugs. Administered BY NEEDLE multiple times a day. The Lupron, Gonal and Menopur will last up to 12 days. The progesterone starts at egg retrieval (Day Zero) and continues through what will hopefully be my sixth week of pregnancy.
The entire three hours did not consist of the needle parade. “M” thoroughly walked us through the ins and outs of this upcoming cycle. There were points where she’d make a little joke and the room would laugh and I would be so thankful. We’re in there with 18 other infertile couples and it felt like the most awkward first day of school. No one looking to their sides, straight ahead. I could feel the class-clown tension between Shelton and I; each of us constantly wanting to make some uninvited wise ass comment. Because we decided to wear our mature adult clothes today, we kept quiet.
She explained that due to the drugs our estrogen level on the day of egg retrieval would be close to 4000. Any other time of ovulation it would be about 300. That is ludicrous. She gently suggested to the husbands that they remember this estrogen spike and act accordingly.
We also heard from one of the clinic’s doctors. She explained some of the risks associated with the drugs, and risks and statistics for multiples. I still REALLY want twins, as in, does Shelton’s opinion count since he doesn’t?? However, since I was wearing my mature adult clothes, the ones that say you can trust me with a newborn baby and that I pay my taxes on time, I decided to hear out the doctor. Because of all the drugs we’re on, the likelihood of multiples skyrockets. I asked if family history of twins plays any role and she said that what we’re doing overrides genetics. Fair enough. So if we implant two embryos, there is a 50% chance we’ll have twins (or more!). If we implant a single embryo, there is a 5% chance will have twins. I felt like Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber – “so you’re saying there’s a chance!” It would be the responsible and safe choice to opt for the singleton. After all, I’ve decided we’ll have more than enough embryos to freeze and come back later.
Then we heard from the embryologist, described as our first babysitter. She takes the eggs, and the sperm, and waves her magic wand, or rather pipette, over the petri dishes and builds our little babies. The only concern I had with her was, how do we know my egg didn’t get matched with guy B’s sperm? Before I could ask she more than reassured me that that isn’t going to happen.
Finally, we signed so many forms that I honestly thought someone was going to hand me the keys to a new house. We consented to the IVF, embryo transfer, ICSI, embryo freezing and more. We signed off that the living spouse gets custody of the frozen embryos if one of us should die (I had to promise Shelton I wouldn’t make his “ghost” babies). If we both die then we selected to have our remaining embryos donated to research.
I have to call “M” tomorrow to get my birth control and prenatal vitamin prescriptions filled. I hadn’t even thought about the vitamins. I’m no good, NO GOOD AT ALL, with daily pills. So keep your fingers crossed for me. In college I used to tape my birth control to the bathroom mirror so I wouldn’t forget… maybe I’ll try that again.
Afterward, I made Shelton take me for ice cream. Not because the doctor hurt me, which was always my mom’s rule growing up, but because of the impending promise of pain.